Women rally for Bradbury, blast Smith TV attack ad

To denounce a television ad aired by U.S. Senator Gordon Smith, female labor leaders joined women elected officials and leaders of local women's rights organizations at a noon rally in the downtown Portland Park Blocks Sept. 19.

The Smith ad, produced by the Republican National Committee, accuses labor-endorsed challenger Bill Bradbury, a Democrat, of making life harder on "working women" by voting repeatedly to raise taxes. And it portrays Smith as a backer of "tax relief for middle-class families."

"Oregon women can't be fooled by misleading television ads and reinvented candidates," said former Governor Barbara Roberts, the rally emcee.

The Bradbury campaign says the 30-second ad, crafted by the Republican National Committee, is full of distortions and misrepresentations.

For example, the ad says Bradbury "pushed for a new sales tax" In fact, the bill Bradbury voted on sent a sales tax referendum to voters.

And as for Smith's "tax relief for middle-class families," a study by Citizens For Tax Justice and the Children's Defense Fund reports that 52 percent of the Smith-supported Bush tax cut will go to the richest 1 percent, who are expected to be "relieved" of $477 billion of taxes by 2010. Meanwhile, speakers said, Bradbury's record beats Smith's on a laundry list of issues important to women.

Roberts said Bradbury has supported equal pay for equal work, comprehensive maternity leave, and requirements that insurers cover mammograms.

When Bradbury was president of the Oregon Senate, Roberts recalled, his first item of business was a proposal to deal with sexual harassment claims by employees of the Oregon Legislature.

[The Legislature had exempted itself from the rules when it passed an earlier workplace sexual harassment law.] Two years later, when Gordon Smith became Senate president, he deleted that language and killed the legislative task force that was working on it.

"Money can buy television ads, but it can't change history or the facts," said Judy O'Connor, secretary-treasurer of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council (NOLC). O'Connor said on the "Oregon working families scorecard" - a tally of votes on union political priorities kept by the Committee on Political Education (COPE) of the Oregon AFL-CIO - Bradbury has a 93 percent lifetime rating, compared with Smith's 17 percent. The state labor federation and NOLC have endorsed Bradbury, while Smith has endorsements from the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council and the Oregon State Fire Fighters Association.

O'Connor said Smith voted AGAINST a minimum wage increase, but FOR an $11,500 a year increase in his senator's salary.

The two candidates also differ in their positions on abortion rights. Bradbury voted to protect funding for contraception and abortion services in the Oregon Health Plan. Smith voted to prohibit abortions at U.S. military hospitals at home and abroad.

"Working women across Oregon know how important it is to have the right to choose to plan their families and their careers," said Caroline Fitchett, executive director of Oregon National Abortion Rights League.

Other figures lending their endorsement at the rally included Kris Kain of the Oregon Education Association, union member and legislator Diane Rosenbaum, Oregon Senate Minority Leader Kate Brown and former Multnomah County Chair Bev Stein.

October 4, 2002 issue

Home | About

© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.